February is the month that African Americans celebrate Black History Month. “Black History Month also known as National African American History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by black Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of African Americans in U.S. history.” Those such as Booker T. Washington, Madam C.J. Walker, Crispus Attucks, Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, Mary Jackson, and the first black president, Barack Hussein Obama.
February is also designated as the month of love. A time that we express our love to the special people in our life. And on this 26th day of February I want to designate it as Black Love Day. This idea won’t be picked up by Hallmark and it won’t receive national attention; but it will always be the day that I celebrate black love. You see, it was the day that Theon Dixon from Kinston, North Carolina married Gerald L. Smith Sr., from Baltimore, Maryland.
Gerald (affectionately known as Butch to his family and friends) and Theon met in 1965. The story is told that there was an instant connection between them, as though they had known one another all of their life. But Theon was already married to a man name Henry. And so Gerald and Theon lost touch with one another. If Gerald were alive today, he’d tell us that he never forgot Theon and had hoped that one day their paths would meet again. And as chance would have it, their paths did meet again many years later….1980 to be exact.
Theon was divorced from Henry and raising her two children in Baltimore. I am not exactly sure of the circumstances that reunited Gerald and Theon, but I do recall Gerald sharing with me many years later that once he found her again he was determined to not let her go. And so Gerald and Theon began dating and on February 26, 1987, Gerald and Theon became husband and wife.
Sounds like the makings of a storybook romance doesn’t it? The reality is there would be challenges and struggles on top of challenges and struggles and many believed that their relationship was dysfunctional and would not survive. But through the tumultuous, stormy, bumpy ride of the relationship, I like to say that the love they had for one another sustained them.
Admittedly, I was one of those persons who wished that the relationship would end. And I was also one of the people who did not celebrate their marriage. In fact, I did not attend the wedding. But as the years went on and I began to see the miracle working power of Jesus Christ transform my mother and my stepdad, my perspective began to change. I began to see two people who loved one another and who were committed to one another, defeat the odds and the obstacles. If Theon were alive today she would tell you that there were days she prayed that Gerald would just leave because he got on her nerves. And she would also tell you that God’s response to her prayer was, “You asked me for that man and my grace is sufficient.” Gerald’s response to Theon’s prayer, “I wasn’t going anywhere.”
And so Gerald and Theon lived as husband and wife for 23 years until the Lord called Theon home. One year and eight months later Gerald would join his wife in heaven.
I celebrate my parents today on their anniversary. I imagine them in heaven slow dancing to Stay In My Corner by The Dells as they celebrate what would have been their thirty year wedding anniversary.
As I remember my parents and reflect on their covenant, I pray that my husband shares the same level of commitment to our covenant that I do. I pray that we will share the same mindset that divorce is not an option and by any means necessary we will be determined to work through together the curve balls and challenges life can throw at us. That is what my parents did. Yes there were days they did not like one another. Yes there were days they asked the infamous question, “why did I get married? (At least my mother did)” Yes there were days they were not sure the marriage would make it to the next day. BUT, they were committed to one another and they were committed to their covenant.
And so I raise my glass today and salute my parents in heaven Gerald and Theon Smith on their thirty year wedding anniversary.
Happy Anniversary mommy and Mr. Butch. I love you.
~ Chocolate Chip